Herald Staff Writer
Norton outscored Norwalk 13-8 in the final six minutes to win the Mansfield division II regional semi-final game giving them a spot in Friday’s title game.
“I think we outworked them at the end,” Kelsey Hosey said. “Coach (Brian Miller) kept us fresh by substituting the whole game and Norwalk couldn’t match our energy.”
In a game which saw 15 lead changes and 11 ties it boiled down to Norton finally being able to convert free throws in the final minute. The Panthers were only 15-of-26 for the game but 4-of-6 at the end.
“Thank goodness we hit our free throws at the end because we missed four straight before that.” Miller said.
Abbey Murawski (16), Jordan Bird (6) and Logan Favor (4) supplied the knockout blows at the charity stripe in the final minute.
“This was a total team win,” Jimi Howell, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds said. “Everybody picked each other up and we needed to do it tonight.”
Fouls caused the Lady Panthers some nervous minutes as Bryana Housley (three points, five assists) fouled out while Howell and Sarah Shearer had four fouls and Hosey three.
“Jordan (Bird), Logan (Favor) and Nicole Lester were the difference for us,” Shearer said.” They came in played offense and defense and covered for all of who had to sit in foul trouble.”
With the game tied at 42-42 in the fourth, Favor, Murawski and Howell all scored baskets and Bird added a free throw to push the margin 49-42. The Truckers rallied to pull within 49-44 before Norton closed it out with the scoring run.
“It is great to move on but I certainly hope we have decided to control our fouls and make our free throws,” Miller said. “If not we may not be as lucky next time.”
Norton is now 20-5 while Norwalk finishes at 22-7. The Lady Panthers will play the states No. 1 ranked division II school Ottawa-Glandorf (28-0) who beat Clyde (21-3) 59-48 in the other regional game.
Friday’s game is at Mansfield Senior high school for a 7:30 p.m. start.
Read more about the Lady Panthers’ tournament run in the next Herald.
Herald Photo by Rich Hudgins